“Imagine if a county administrator in Florida could make development decision in secret, without asking the county commissioners? Only if the administrator denied a request would the commissioners have a say.” That’s the question the Palm Beach Post asked in a recent editorial. They were speaking, of course, in reference to SB 2080, which is currently sitting on the desk of Gov. Charlie Crist.
SB 2080 would eliminate public hearings that take place before the governing boards of Florida’s five water management districts and place one individual—an appointed executive director—completely in control over the approval process for removing water from Florida’s aquifer and rivers. In fact, if this legislation had been passed (and signed into law) during the last legislative session, the hundreds who turned out to oppose the recent request from Seminole County to drain 5.5 million gallons of water per day from the St. Johns river…well, there would have been no hearing for them to speak at. The withdrawal would have simply been approved by the Executive Director and the public would have had no input.
Volusia County Council Member Andy Kelly is one of those opposed to the new legislation. He told the West Volusia Beacon that he had concerns over the political pressures that would be exerted on water-management executive directors when large, for-profit developers came requesting permits.
“I know that I wouldn’t want to be in that position,” Kelly told the Beacon. “I would deny each one, so that it would go back to the Governing Board for public input and broad public discussion.”
Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton has been one of the rare Jacksonville politicians that have spoken up in opposition to this dangerous legislation. Peyton penned a letter to Charlie Crist asking him to veto the bill.
As Jacksonville’s Riverkeeper so clearly states, this bill is a “poison pill” and should be vetoed. Voice your concerns with the Governor by e-mailing him at Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com or calling him at 850-488-7146.
Let your voice be heard.